The Work of Elders

The term “elder” in the New Testament is used to designate an older man as compared to a young man (Romans 9:12).  Elders were appointed in every church (Acts 14:23) and had to meet certain qualifications to be appointed to this office (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). 

There are three Greek words in the New Testament that refer to the office {position, work} of elders.  The first is presbuteroswhich places emphasis upon the authority that the leadership has to teach or rule in the church.  The second is episkoposwhich places emphasizes on the fact that the leadership is charged with overseeing the local church and has responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in the church.  The third is poimenwhich places emphasis upon the responsibility of the leadership of the church to shepherd the flock.  In 1 Peter 5:1-4 we read>1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. In verse 1 we find the word presbuterous,in verse 2 we find the word poimen, and in verse 3 we find the word episkopos

The New Testament never speaks of a single elder (Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1). 

The work of elders is clearly set forth in the New Testament.  The Scriptures that define the work of the elders are:

1.         FEED THE FLOCK, THE CHURCH OF GOD.  (Acts 20:28) “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to allthe flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”When the church is properly fed with the gospel of Christ, the children of God will grow up to be mature Christians.

2.         WATCH FOR THE SOULS OF THE CHURCHAND GIVE ACCOUNT TO THE LORD.  (Hebrews 13:17) “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”The concern and care for the souls of the church is a consistent work for the eldership and much attention must be given to this important work.

3.         BE OVERSEERS OF THE FLOCK {CHURCH}.  (1 Peter 5:2) “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.”Elders will seek out the concerns and cares of the congregation from the deacons and men of wisdom in the church.  Elders only make decisions in expedient matters of the work of the church.

4.         BE ABLE TO TEACH AND PREACH THE WORD.  (1 Timothy 5:17)  “Let the elders of who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”Elders must know those who teach and preach in the congregation.  They must be able to know error and be able to give a Bible answer. 

5.         EXHORT {ENCOURAGE} AND COVICT {REPROVE, REBUKE} THE GAINSAYERS {THOSE WHO SPEAK AGAIN THE TRUTH}.  (Titus 1:9)  “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”Elders must be able and ready to exhort, reprove, and rebuke those who do not hold to the truth of the gospel.

6.         BE EXAMPLES TO THE FLOCK {THE CHURCH}.  (1 Peter 5:3)“nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  An elder must remember that he is an example to the flock {the church}.

It brings great joy to the Lord and to the church to see an eldership work as a “team.” It also brings joy to God when He sees a congregation who holds up the hands of its elders.